But they are not alone. When reading an Op-Ed piece in the sports section of a local newspaper, I was surprised to read one writer's argument that it is actually the numerous referee mistakes that give soccer so much of its drama. Furthermore, he reasoned that to reduce that human error would somehow be robbing the sport of one of its most popular aspects.
I have never heard such a preposterous argument. Isn't it possible that the fans of the world are much more interested in the drama of the gameplay, created by the superior athletic ability and creative execution of the players? Did they pay for a stadium seat or a cable TV hookup in order to zoom in on the referees?
No, I don't think it's too old-school to claim that the most exciting games to watch are those in which the play is focused on the players, while the referees remain nearly invisible.
There is a board game parallel, of course. The best board games, after all, are also focused on the skill and creativity of the players within the system, and not on the rules.
Dense, unituitive rule books with details that are difficult to remember or have many exceptions bog down the gameplay, and the experience becomes all about trying to understand the rules. On the other hand, if the theme, mechanisms, and limits defined in the rules quickly fade into the background during gameplay, the players are more free to enjoy their interactions with the game system and each other.
Just as with sport, the drama in a good board game is not created by focusing on the "referee"--or rules--of the game, but can only really happen when the rules take a back seat to the gameplay.